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Jim Furyk confident U.S. will respond after Europe sweeps puts U.S. down 5-3 in Ryder Cup

BRIONY CARLYON: Thanks for taking the time to join us here this evening.

Opening day here at Le Golf National in Paris is over, and just perhaps your thoughts from the day’s play.

JIM FURYK: Yeah, I guess two tales: We got the momentum in the morning, out 3-1. Europe flipped it quickly and got some unbelievable momentum in the afternoon for 4-0. So two totally different sides in the morning and the afternoon.

You know, you’ve got to look at it, we played for eight points so far out of 28. The event’s still pretty young. We’ve got one more team format tomorrow and then the singles. Eight out of 28, you know, pretty small percentage of this golf tournament been played.

Right now, you kind of look at the two sides. If we would have went — if we would have lost both sides 2 1/2-1 1/2 and this thing were 5-3, we would still be in the same place, but I’m sure there would be — you know, y’all would probably have a little bit different look on your face about how it happened. In the afternoon, going 4-0 is significant. But you know, we liked our fourball pairings. They did very well yesterday morning, and we’re sending those same pairings back out, as you noticed, and we will figure out the afternoon for tomorrow and try to do better.

Q. There’s been a lot of concern about Tiger Woods. We heard he didn’t play this afternoon because of back problems. See he’s going out tomorrow. Is he happy to be managed through this tournament because of his physical issues?
JIM FURYK: I have not heard that he’s had a back problem, so that is — I would say that that’s not true. You’d have to ask Tiger, but no, I saw him out on the golf course. He said he was all good.

I don’t remember him having — I mean, he was actually out practising tonight after the matches. I think any time Tiger draws so much attention — any time Tiger doesn’t play, or maybe he stretches a little bit, everyone gets a little hypersensitive that he might have a back issue.

But I am not aware of anything like that, and I didn’t get any information like that from Tiger or my vice captains, so I don’t believe that’s true.

Q. Not just the fact that you lost the matches, but the results were quite convincing in Europe’s favor. Do you have any worry that that foursomes format is going to present a serious problem for you tomorrow?
JIM FURYK: Well, here’s the great thing about match play: In medal play, you can shoot 68 and 78, and you’re down ten shots and you’ve got to try to make that up for the next three days, right. In match play, you can make a 10 on a hole and the other guy makes a 3 and you only lose one hole. You can make that up the very next hole.

Kind of the same thing with these matches, you lose 6&5, you lose 2&1, it’s still the same result, correct? We have to shore things up, and I’m guessing we’ll switch things up in the afternoon tomorrow. We’ve already been thinking about that.

Does it pose a problem? I think our guys, I think they will respond, I really do. I have a lot of confidence in this team. I think that, you know, obviously it’s going to leave a sour taste in their mouth tonight and they have to sleep on that. We’ll come back tomorrow, and I bet we’ll be fine.

Q. Tiger and Patrick were the only loss you suffered this morning in the fourballs. How would you assess their play together, and did you have any sense that that loss maybe was the first part of the momentum that led to what the Europeans did in the afternoon?
JIM FURYK: I think saying that that led to the momentum would be maybe reading some things into it. I think they were in the third match, right, this morning? They were in the — they were in the final match. They were in the anchor.

I didn’t look at it as that was a big momentum boost. We put four matches out. We tried to put them in order that we’re comfortable with and think the players will like.

We went 3-1. I thought we had a lot of momentum coming out of that session. The fact that — no, I think that Molinari and Fleetwood were a formidable team today, both very good ball-strikers.

The afternoon, if you look at the scores, I realise it’s match play, but the European side played very good golf this afternoon. I mean, my hat’s off to them. Every one of their matches was even par to under par on a pretty difficult setup in difficult conditions where the wind was blowing 20 miles an hour. I realise our guys aren’t happy about the way they played, but they also — we have to look at the fact that they did play really well. Don’t take anything away from the Europeans. They played a great session of golf from top to bottom in all four sessions today and had some great ball-strikers out there.

I don’t look at one match in the morning being a momentum-changer or anything like that. I think we had the momentum going into the afternoon, but we just didn’t carry it in.

Q. Historically, the last couple of matches, the U.S. record in foursomes play — why do you think the disparity is there between the U.S. Team —
JIM FURYK: With the wind blowing, I didn’t quite hear — the clap on the thing.

Q. Given the disparity in the foursomes record between the U.S. and Europe, why do you think the United States seems to struggle a little bit more?
JIM FURYK: I don’t know, you turn it around and look at the Presidents Cup, and our foursomes record is really strong.

There’s a thought that, you know, in Europe, they grow up playing foursomes a little bit. You know, we have a lot of experience in that format, and other than the fact that, you know, we didn’t play our best golf today, I don’t know, today.

We can look at things in the past about the way our pairings were placed. Maybe about golf balls, the way we thought about foursomes. But I have a lot of confidence in our guys, and I think in the events in The Ryder Cups, some of them we’ve been successful in; we’ve had a good foursomes record, as well.

Q. Two things on Tiger. With respect to him sitting in the afternoon, was that always the plan? And given what he went through with the back surgery 18 months ago and all the golf he’s played, is that something that you have to be mindful of, given a lot of golf for him lately?
JIM FURYK: Well, it’s been a lot of golf. I think winning last week was very exciting. Also probably takes a little bit out of you. I felt like he can go 36 today, but looking at the groups we had on the course, I think that — you know, you talk about momentum, I think the Koepka-Finau match was a big momentum boost this morning, if you want to say that. That match was down most of the day and able to flip and win 1-up and kind of lead off The Ryder Cup. I thought that was a great flip.

I looked and I felt like I had those groups out on the golf course that were playing extremely well. Kept them on the golf course and tried to get some guys in this afternoon that I also thought were playing really well.

Q. You mentioned you felt like you guys were going to have to shore some things up for the afternoon for the foursomes. What specifically did you feel like wasn’t going well today that led to maybe some of the higher scores for your team, and what will they have to shore up?
JIM FURYK: You know, again, I look at when I see in that weather on this golf course, I think you had a match out there, Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren were something like 5-under on the front nine on alternate-shot. They pretty much would have been leading any fourball match this morning with an alternate-shot team. You look at the way they played, they played great.

We didn’t play our best golf. What happened, I think it happens a lot in golf, is the momentum. You start seeing those putts go in. You start seeing the birdies. You start seeing the blue numbers on the board. I think the guys press a little hard. I think they try a little bit too hard and I think they put a little bit too much pressure on themselves.

That type of format is about executing and hitting a bunch of fairways and hitting a bunch of greens and putting the pressure on the other team, and Europe was able to do that better than us this afternoon.

Q. How much do you see a change in body language from morning to the afternoon, and how hard is it to kind of control the emotions when you have kind of a roller coaster day like this?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think absolutely, 100 percent, you see a change in body language. I’m sure the Europeans’ body language significantly changed to all smiles and boisterous and hugs and high-fives, and I’m sure the looks on some of my players were not quite the happiest and dead-opposite this morning.

Again, what we all have to remember and the important message is: It was four points out of 28 that we played for. We are not happy with it. I think we use it as motivation tomorrow. But it’s significant, but it’s a small percentage of the points that we’re going to play for this week. Right now we’re two points down with 20 left. There’s time. So we need to talk a little bit as a team tonight, and I think hopefully come out tomorrow and rally.

Q. We watched the same thing you did, and there seemed to be some players that really struggled out there and maybe struggled coming in. Are you willing to sit that player or players throughout the whole day tomorrow if that’s what’s necessary?
JIM FURYK: We’re making a game plan. We’ll figure it out. I mean, we’re going to make the decisions that are best for our team, and our players are all on board for that. They want an opportunity to be put in position on Sunday to have a chance to win The Ryder Cup.

We’re all on board. We’ll take a look at it and we’ll also take a peek at how the guys are playing early tomorrow and have some options tomorrow, and midday, we’ll kind of make those selections.

I guess to answer your question, we’ll see how it goes, and we will do anything needed to try to put ourselves in position.

Q. Figuring a lot of this might just have to do with wanting to get everybody out there, but I think people were a little bit surprised to see Phil play foursomes today, given his driving accuracy statistics and so forth. Could you talk about the thought process there?
JIM FURYK: Well, he’s got a lot of experience. Most experienced Ryder Cupper of all time. I think his fourball ready is a little better than his foursomes ready, but I realise the golf course is tight. I realise you have to hit a lot of fairways. It’s also a place where you’re probably not hitting a lot of drivers if you’re Phil Mickelson and you’re hitting a lot of 3-woods and a lot of irons.

You know, looking at his game, he’s a very good iron player, so I felt comfortable. Bryson is a good ball-striker. I felt comfortable putting them out there. They practiced a lot together. You know, I’ve heard, I guess some of the rumblings and been aware their scores were pretty similar to pretty much the best scores we had on the team today. I have all the confidence in both of those players, and I have so much confidence in Phil in his ability to take a young player like Bryson and help him out, and also, it’s Phil Mickelson, Major Champion. He’s got a lot of experience, and I put that confidence in him.

And I’ll be honest. I’d do it again. I have a lot of confidence in all 12.

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